DSC03659 smallAt conferences and summits there are always a lot of vendors and I imagine these events are really hard for them. Two reasons:

    1) They have to stand out in a large crowd.
    2) They have to do #1 when the most get is two to five mins with each person who stops at their booth.

But from a customers perspective this is a very interesting situation because it might be easy to see how good each vendor is by how they react to this high pressure environment.

I took some time at the recent emetrics summit in Washington DC to get to know all the vendors who had booths in the exhibition area. I stopped by each table and asked the first person that was available to talk at the booth two simple questions:

    Question # 1: Unique: What is the most unique thing about your company / solution compared to all other competitor solutions out there?

    Question # 2: Unique Feature: Is there a feature in your product that differentiates you from your competitors? Perhaps a report, a metric or a feature?

The first question was geared towards getting a 60,000 feet view about differentiation (because there is a rumor that they all do the same thing!) and the hope with the second question was that the vendor would highlight somethings specific about the product, the 6 feet view if you will.

Before we go any further the dictionary definition of the word unique is:


    1) Being the only one of its kind
    2) Without an equal or equivalent; unparalleled.

Here are some very insightful answers from each vendor, if you are looking for a solution this might be helpful to you or if you are looking for some fun read then you will also find this interesting.

[The "ORbAK Golden Star Award" for the best answer goes to Karen Hugins from Unica Affinium NetInsight NetTracker! She win's brownie points. :) Honorable mention for Steve Phillips from Numeric, he also gave a great answer.]

Web Side Story (Dave Datars)
Unique: "The way we capture data. Our solution uses page tagging and not web logs as others do."
Feature: "We are very good at reporting and metrics for streaming media. We also have Visual Sciences that can track you across channels by placing sensors"

ExactTarget (Pat Donnely)
Unique: "We have developed a open API and that leverages industry standards."
Feature: "Data is trapped in different systems in a company and we can pull all that data and use it to send timely emails."

Omniture (Trent Dava)
“I have not used other web analytics products but Omniture's ability to create hundreds of custom variables is unique. We also have built in bid management in the latest version.”
Feature: “All the new optimizations that we have built into the tool. As a example you can measure RIA's (rich internet applications) and track across RIA's. You can also do Blog Value optimization and if you are getting the conversion rates that you like. With Discover you can get much deeper segmentation.”

X+1 (Heath Podvesker)
"What we do is real time and we both product and service focussed. Our customers get a 20 – 60% by using our product."
Feature: "Kefta will optimize based on creative, we can go much deeper when we do optimization."

Atlas (Erin) [Represented just the Web experience optimization group. They compete, if that is the right word, with lab usability, focus groups etc. ]
Unique: "We use much larger sample of website users, initially we will go in and collect two weeks of data which is a lot more than ."
Feature: "Our ability to tie to quantitative data and ability to do deep segmentation."

Numeric (Steve Phillips)
“Our background is in Direct Marketing Analytics, highly quantitative positions and we are not dedicated to web analytics and brining our background with us makes us unique.”
Feature: “We don't have recruiters who are focussed on generic positions, they are specialized in analytics and they provided very personalized high level service. We also offer a 90 day money back guarantee.”

iPerceptions (Jonathan Levitt)
Unique: “Our methodology is what makes us unique, the new iPSI we have introduced is the only index that is measuring the pure online experience. We believe that there are different customer expectations from a online experience and creating a pure index is better.”
Feature: “The ability to get a 360 degree view of the customer experience, looking not just at customer satisfaction but also how specific segments of customers behave and what each segment is looking for.”

ForeSee Results (Eric Head)
Unique: “The ACSI (American Customer Satisfaction Index) model is very unique and exclusive in our tool. The model is time tested, it is credible and the model links Satisfaction to Business Performance.”
Feature: “A unique feature in our product is the ability to assign a score to the impact of a chance, it is all about the numbers.”

Optimost (Scott Simonelli)
Unique: “Out ability to use true multi variable testing methodology and uses "optimal design", our system / platform was built from the ground up just to do MVT. Other vendors are just can test "islands" and not truly multi variable tests.”
Feature: “Reporting is very customizable, you can customize to your KPI's to your success metrics.”

Site Spect (Eric Hansen)
Unique: “Our solution is non intrusive, there is no code to integrate and you can have a managed or hosted solution.”
(On a follow up question I requested a clarification of what non-intrusive” means: "We have a solution, hardware or software, that sits between the customer and your web servers and in real time can detect the content going out and send the content that you want to go out for the test to be executed." Think of how packet sniffers work by sitting on your servers (software) or in your data center (hardware)).
Feature: “Our solution will dynamically build orthogonal arrays based on all the variables that you want to test.”

Unica Affinium NetInsight (Karen Hudgins)
Unique: “We provide the most robust reporting for marketers doing cross channel marketing. We have built integration robustness into the tool, for example easy integration with your CRM data.”
Feature: “Our "drag and drop" functionality. For example you could be looking at a group of referrers and you want to see which referrer traffic stayed on your site for ten minutes or more. This is really simple, just drag and drop the time from the menu and drop it on the referrers and your report is ready. The ease of use of our tool is unique, for both new users or long term users.”

Google Analytics (Jeff Gills)
Unique: “Scalability. We have thousands of users and we can tap into their voices and feedback to select features that we implement, features that will be most relevant to them.”
Feature: “Cross segmentation, for example you have the ability to look at a webpage and which keyword brought people to that page and analyze that. You can also compute life time value.”

indexTools (Dennis Mortensen)
Unique: “Web analytics is increasingly becoming a commodity with similar features showing up in all the tools. If you have $100k to spend on web analytics then our tool will give you all the features that you are looking for a fraction of the cost of other vendors and you'll have money left over for investing in analysts.”
Feature: “Ability to segment and the ease of doing segmentation. We make it easy to take the idea that you have in your head and help you easily do that segmentation in our tool.”

Instadia (Anders Jorgensen)
Unique: “Instadia is a integrated service solution that will give you clickstream analysis but it will also give you the ability to understand why people who visit your website do what they do (via a built in surveying capability). We have a architecture that allows us to store unaggregated data what in turn allows our customers to have the ability to do infinite segmentation and aggregation so that they can look at the data any way they want.”
Feature: “The ability to create your prefect dashboards / reports / views using excel and then uploading it into Instadia and going forward Instadia can produce your excel created dashboard and populate that with the latest data (even from other non web analytics data sources) and produce new versions and email them to your decision makers.”

Maximine (Michael Fung)
Unique: “Our customer retention rate is greater than 90%. It is because 80% of our features from our customer's feedback and our ability to scale to meet our customers needs.”
Feature: “Our "web map" to represent the web architecture is very unique. Out ability to store all the information in a spatial database which makes things very relevant but allowing us to answer questions very quickly.”

[I have to apologize to two vendors who were at the summit but I could not interview. Ironically I have a great deal of affection for both of them, and I forgot. So I feel worse. The vendors are ClickTracks and Visual Sciences. John, Eric, I am sorry, you can answer the questions via comments with benefit of hindsight!]

From my quick interviews here were some overall, surprising, observations:

* It is amazing how many times the vendor representatives don't / can't / won't answer the question who their competitors are. Some seemed to be genuinely perplexed that they have competitors.

* A lot of them answer the question "what is unique about you" but sharing what is not great about their competitors. That might not be optimal framing when speaking to your customers, even if the competitors suck.

* I have the privilege of having used many of solutions these vendors were selling. Hence it was especially interesting to hear answers of these vendors. For many I would have answered the two questions completely differently from how they answered. So a difference in what a company thought was unique, and what I think it is from my perspective as a customer. Which could be ok, but in some cases I could have answered the questions better for them! : )

So what can you do with this blog post:

Vendors: Is what is below truly reflective of your unique and differentiated value proposition? Does everyone in your company know why you are so unique and can they articulate it to all your customers? [Perhaps this post might be of value: Make a Great Vendor / Agency / Consulting Pitch - Win Big Contracts.]

Customers (practitioners): Even though the two questions are seemingly simple they are very tough questions (very few people are good at answering to ambiguity). As you consider these vendors hopefully this post has given you some food for thought.

What do you all think? Are there other answers above that you would have voted as the best answer? Do you agree with answers to the two unique questions from your current vendor? Do you have a better answer to these questions for your vendor? Please share your feedback via comments.

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